When you see corporations like Google and Netflix and how fun their office looks, don’t you sometimes wish your own company would provide the same perks?
Imagine: instead of waking up earlier to pack your own lunch or braving the lunch rush to get food from the nearest Jollijeep or fast food restaurant, your office pantry would have an in-house chef cooking lunch for everyone.
A lot of these office perks may seem great, but whether you’re looking for a new job or putting these perks in your current company’s suggestion box, don’t be fooled: a lot of these office perks that look fun may actually be making your job more stressful than it has to be.
With that, here are three office perks you should actually want in your workplace and three that are just part of the hype.
Good: Indoor Greenery
The problem with urbanization is that parks and green spaces are getting smaller and rarer in favor of buildings and infrastructure, especially in highly-populated areas like Metro Manila. But did you know that adding indoor greenery not only looks good and gives employees a break from the industrial sights and sounds, but it can also benefit their productivity?
Having live greenery inside your office can improve oxygen levels, ventilation, and reduce the harmful particles in the air. This can improve your employees’ concentration and productivity in their tasks. Certain types of greenery can serve as sound insulation to decrease noise levels. And in times like these, having plants in your office can balance out humidity levels, reducing the risk of airborne viruses.
This can be as simple as a couple of indoor plants placed around your office or a vertical landscape design to integrate greenery functionality with aesthetics. More modern offices in the Philippines are using the latter to add a touch of nature into their designs to help brighten up their offices!
Bad: Open Offices
Conceptually, open offices may seem like a good idea. Instead of the old-style corporate style of hundreds of cubicles in one giant room, open offices break down walls and provide a minimalist space that’s meant to make it easy for employees to collaborate with each other. And yes, these offices look more aesthetically pleasing than an office crammed with cubicles, but performance-wise, it can take a toll on your performance.
For tasks that require you to really think, your brain needs to be in a quiet place that avoids distractions. Studies have shown that those who work in private offices outperform those in open offices. So, when you have that one office chatterbox that won’t stop talking, no matter how hard you try your brain will be distracted picking up the sounds of them talking.
In short: open offices are overrated. If you’re easily distracted, a company that has zero quiet areas or soundproofed rooms can be a difficult place to work in.
Good: Bean Bag Chairs
Surprisingly, bean bag chairs are more than just a fun place to sit on during your break or a casual meeting with your team. Depending on the type of bean bag your office has, bean bags can be a good way to relieve back pain.
The human body isn’t designed to stay seated for long periods of time. Therefore, an average desk job that keeps you at your desk for almost eight hours a day has become a chronic health risk. Quality bean bags are designed to fit to your body’s natural shape and posture, making it much more comfortable and adding less pressure to your lower back.
Bad: (Micromanaging) Work from Home
The new normal has made work from home the standard for many companies that can allow their employees to work remotely. For companies that can provide WFH options, it’s the safer option compared to making everyone go to the office during these trying times.
Admittedly, however, WFH isn’t a perfect solution. For those who don’t have the luxury of setting up their own private office and having others to handle the other tasks at home, working from home can destroy work-life balance and make employees work longer hours due to the distractions they have at home.
Don’t get me wrong: WFH is a good policy, especially in times like now where going outside puts you and everyone in your household at risk. But this becomes less of a perk and more of a tedious and stressful situation when your employer doesn’t trust that you’ll get work done and opts to implement micromanaging tactics to monitor their employees remotely.
In my case, my supervisor has a relatively hands-off approach with me. At the start of the day, he gives me my tasks, and I message him when necessary. As long as I update him on important tasks and finish all my tasks for the day, I don’t feel pressured or micromanaged.
But I know another person working remotely for their company, and their situation is slightly different. Their employer had them install a program into their personal laptop that can track activity and how productive they are. This program randomly takes screenshots and sends it to her employer to prove that they’re not doing things outside of their tasks.
It’s a huge red flag for employees when their employers don’t trust you enough to be really working at home. And if you can’t trust your employees to get the job done when they’re on their own, maybe you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place if you don’t trust their work ethic that well.
Good: Free Food
Providing free food and drinks benefits both you and your company. Whether it’s just snacks and a small tea and coffee station, providing lunch every other day, or having an in-house chef to provide meals, the company is shouldering the costs of your food during work hours. It’s great if you don’t want to rush into Jollijeeps and fast food restaurants that are crowded during the lunch rush. And it also saves you the time and hassle of waking up earlier to cook and pack your own lunch before you leave for work.
As for the company, providing your employee’s meals can actually be a cost-effective strategy. Aside from helping employee retention, employees with in-house food options can eat and return to work much faster, compared to them taking more than an hour to buy food and eat it. Cutting out the time it takes them to get lunch, snacks or coffee can actually reduce the amount of time they spend away from their work.
Bad: Free Food, But It’s Mostly Junk Food
I mean, I love it when my supervisor used to treat us to pizza back in the office, or when our monthly company townhall ends with a dinner that includes cake and a chocolate fountain. But if your company is going to spoil you with an unlimited pantry of junk food, it’s not only bad for your health but also for your ability to work.
Having full daily access to unhealthy snacks can take a toll on your body in the long run, especially if you’re seated for most of your shift and don’t have an active lifestyle outside of work. And speaking of work, junk food can take a toll on your brain, making you sleepy and less focused on your tasks.
The point of free food is so that employees don’t have to walk or go far to get food. So, the combination of junk food and then giving them reasons to stay glued to their seats can have an effect on their health and their performance at work.
What may seem like enticing office perks on a job ad may actually be the reason you feel even more stressed than usual when you work. So, if you’re job hunting in the new normal and you see perks like these, don’t be fooled into thinking that they’re always a good thing. Some of these aren’t as fun or appealing as they first seem.
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Justine is a Slytherin who loves cosplay, horror fiction, and puns. She is the certified favorite human of her dog, Pud.